Saturday, 23 May 2015


On Thursday, once the solar panels were successfully installed and explained, and we had sullied Tim Davis's green principles with cream donuts, we headed to Hillmorton by car to the Canal Shop with two intentions - first was to sort out about our proposed purchase and fitting of an Airhead toilet (arranged for August-ish), and the second was meet up with Paul and Sally on nb James. Their Airhead was being fitted there, so we took the opportunity to see them and deliver a bottle of Australian red. We had hoped to have time for a boat meeting, but they were heading for Crick and we were still in the marina. It was lovely to meet them properly after reading Paul's newsletters regularly and emailing back and forth over the last 18 months or so.
Paul, David and Charlie and Daisy on board nb James

Sally on board nb James

Well, yesterday was our first day boating for this season, and it ended on a fabulous note. As I mentioned in the previous post, we left a note in Mick and Julia’s letterbox in Desborough, hoping they would get in touch. Last night they did – they had just arrived back from a trip to the US and called us. The smiles on our faces were wider than any seen on a wide mouthed frog.

They are coming to see us on Tuesday!! Yay!! Excitement unlimited indeed. And Mel is very happy too – he has fond memories of being dressed up in the appropriate scarf  and shirt, and dancing on a coffee table with Mick when Leicester City were playing some team at football and winning. Was it Manchester City? Westham?

One relaxing thing was that I could stop rearing up every time I heard an old style boat coming past, now I know M&J are ensconced at their place in Desborough.

It was a lovely day all round. We had a call from Jaq Biggs and will catch up with them during the week too. What a pleasure this life onboard is.

I was going to title this post ‘And the Score is …’ It was a day of nifty happenings and some mess-ups, some of them hilarious and others rather embarrassing.

We had planned to leave Barby early-ish yesterday morning but realised that it would be quicker to do some of the retail tasks while we had a car at our disposal. So we headed to Tescos in Rugby (that is accessible from the cut, but that would have involved an hour or so of boating instead of 5 minutes of driving), then to Halfords to get a fuel pump wrench – of course there were a few games that needed to be purchased for when the grandsons come to visit – Battleships, Connect 4, Monopoly. Then back to Enterprise who dropped us off at the marina.

We (read I) thought it would be a quick job to cast off and leave the marina but of course David wanted to do such tasks as getting the TV aerial down, putting away the gas bottles etc … Then we thought we’d get some diesel before heading out.

My first mess up was nudging the side at the service area before winding to get fuel. David’s was in tying up - he thought it would be a good idea to thread the rope through the pipe bollard rather than wrapping it around it. Not sure where his brain was focused at that point.

Then heading out – a disaster  of such embarrassing proportions that I felt hot and bothered for about half an hour afterwards. On making my way out through the gap, I didn’t get over far enough to be able to swing the stern around to starboard and bow to port. And thoroughly jammed I got. A kind man who moors in Barby saw me stuffing it up and came to assist, getting me to reverse and wind in combination, then taking first my stern rope (not a useful strategy as it reduced my steering to zilch) and then my middle rope to get me pointing in the right direction.
We are underway and I have stopped blushing from embarrassment

The panels have assumed their travelling position for the first day - flat and low to keep them away from low-flying bridges

We decided to moor up early in the afternoon outside Braunston close to Bridge 88 – it was peaceful, no road noise, and black-faced sheep in the ridge and furrow field across the cut were the only critters making any noise.

A game of Battleships ensued after lunch. We used to play it years ago so its purchase was a bit of nostalgia. Well, it was for me…

Clearly David had forgotten how it was set up, how it was played and what the rules were. Considering he remembers every kind of card game that he’s ever played, seen played, read about, watched, his lack of memory of Battleships surprised me.

He started off not recording the calls he made to try to hit my ships, then he started putting the pegs in the board his ships were in in positions that he called to try to hit my boats. Consequently he had a mish-mash of pegs and ships. When that confusion was cleared up, instead of moving the pegs showing positions he’d checked out on my board, he moved his ships – they were then on the top (ie perpendicular) board. Pegs marking the hits I made fell out, then the ships started falling out … At that point, I gave up in hysterics.  
This photos is blurred because I was laughing so hard. See David's ships in the lid? See that two of them have fallen off? Nutbar, I say ...

David is showing me how he has things arranged and is asking what is wrong with it. Hysteria stopped play at about this point!

I decided to walk to the chandlers in Braunston to replace the fuel filter Ed had bought - Midland don't stock many genuine parts for Listers so it was a case of trying to find the Fram one that is the same. No luck, so I got a refund, but who should come in as I was at the counter but the guy who’d helped me at Barby. Embarrassment re-visited …

Late in the afternoon, I decided to prepare the plant pots for when I find a variety of lettuce plants. In went last year's rock collection for weighting purposes, followed by vege scraps from dinner prep and, lastly, the potting mix. At the supermarket I had bought small pots of flat and curly parsley and mint so they got planted. Not sure if they will take, given they had been potted for quick use rather than planting out. But we shall see - plenty of pot space, warmth and water could see them get a new lease of life. It worked last year ...
A sneaky shot

Last night's left over dinner - David loved this meal which was incredibly simple: sauteed veges (onion, capsicum, mushrooms, celery, carrot) & mince with a Knorr beef stock cube and a carton of passata, salt and pepper. These leftovers will be transformed tonight into a bastardised version of cassoulet by adding cannellini beans and chorizo.

David and his new toy, the MPPT controller this morning. I thought he was easily distractable before this arrived, but now every task is interspersed with multiple checks of the controller.

Ridges and furrows in the sunshine at 6.30am
Peace in the early morning sunshine

We are underway and it has clouded over, so jerseys are on

A sight familiar to almost all narrowboaters is the spire of the church at Braunston.

An early night with a late start this morning, into Braunston, through the locks with a couple of families on a hireboat – that was lots of fun and surprisingly quiet through Braunston – everybody must be at Crick! And then we led the way through the tunnel. Uneventful, no boats coming towards us and it seemed shorter than I remember at just over 1800 metres.

We moored up at 1.30pm-ish well before Norton Junction so there is no traffic or rail noise. David’s heel is sore so we will stay here for the rest of the day and tonight, so he can get ready for the Buckby Locks tomorrow. This is the life - all boating activity over before 2pm! We must be retired.


NB Holderness said...

Hi Both,
Glad to see you are underway. I had visions of you deciding to strip out the interior and reconstruct the whole thing after you 'winter' in Wellington.
Happy sailings,
Tony and Helen.

Marilyn McDonald said...

Nah, the solar panels and airhead are our boat 'projects' this season - both done by others. I have to save my strength for the end of the year back in Waikanae, so I can redecorate the hallway (huge with 13 doors to paint), the 2nd bedroom, the sunroom and fully remodelling the bathroom and toilet.
At the moment though I am remembering the muscles I haven't used for a few months and David is the same - Braunston Locks yesterday, Bucky today - where is Helen when he needs a hand?

Diane and Ray said...

Hi, it must feel great to be out on the water again after all the work you completed at home. Time to enjoy the slower pace

Marilyn McDonald said...

It is lovely - I have been following your blog with a mix of envy and smiles. We are now following in your footsteps as we move southwards to the big smoke.